I’ve received a tremendous outpouring of support since my last post. It always feels good to be heard, to be seen; I’m grateful to everyone who has left messages and comments, and all who have reached out. When I started writing, it was because I have always had a strong commitment to advocacy, and a willingness to try things in the name of self-care. I had hoped to reach at least a few people, and maybe even helped one or two. I hope to continue to. I don’t share my stories, my memories, or my darkness lightly. I believe strongly in the power of the written word, in its healing properties and its long reach.
The past few weeks have been really dark for me. I feel like there’s a constant loop in my head – a repeating loop of all my failures, of all the terrible things I can imagine. In these days leading up to our son’s first birthday, that loop feels more like a vortex, one that I’ve been taken over by so much that I don’t recognize myself. I’m acting different; I’m picking fights with my wife, I’m saying things I don’t mean, and I can’t even see it when it’s happening. My perception is completely skewed; all I hear is anger and annoyance. I can feel the insidious whispers of imposter syndrome creeping in at work, and I watch myself isolate and hide in the reflection of my phone screen.
This dark place is not who I am, and definitely not who I want to be; but, for right now, it’s where I am.
We have all heard that pregnancy is a journey, and no two are the same. The last time, with Oscar, I wandered through the woods and stood in fields of wildflowers. I drank in the sun and the wind. Oscar was always our wild child, and I still feel most connected to him when I return to nature – even just sitting quietly on the porch, watching the natural world carry on around me, oblivious to my varied emotions.
This time, this journey, is so vastly different, it feels as if I have never been pregnant before. This time, I carry this life inside me, terrified to believe those flutters are truly there. I feel as if I’m walking through nightmare forests where the roots rise up to trap ankles and snap bones; I sense a deep abyss ahead of me, a craggy ravine that I won’t see until my feet loosen the sharp stones on its edge. I worry deeply about what my state of mind is doing to this baby, sixteen weeks into their tiny life. I’m so afraid to trust my body, with whom I had such a good relationship and understanding of for years, with this child, after being betrayed by the organ Oscar and I grew together and shared. My heart still feels broken, stitched and twined back together; some days I don’t think the seams will hold.
I’ve lost motivation to do things: simple things, impossible things. Making dinner is an endeavor; trying to keep up with things like laundry are a gauntlet I have no energy or interest in. Work is at least an escape, where I can fall into the reports and let myself be distracted by the maze of data. I blamed these feelings a lot on first trimester exhaustion, but I can’t anymore.
I am very privileged in having the support system, dedicated wife, incredible chosen family, and strong and compassionate care team that I do.
I spoke with the midwife and my own wife. I’ve been seeing our counselor regularly, and opening those pockets where the darkness hides inside me. After discussion, I decided to increase my dose of antidepressants, and change medications for sleep now that I’m out of the first trimester. I’ve also decided, though I’ve yet to take action, that it’s time for me to find an individual counselor as well, because trauma monsters live in the darkness, and they spin the yarn the loop is made of. I need help, as I have at many other points in my life. I’m reaching out; at least, I’m trying to.
The day Oscar was born, the sky was so blue it almost hurt the eyes. We now call days like that Oscar blue. Our friends and family send us pictures when they see it, wherever they are. There are a million quotes on Pinterest about seeing the light through the dark, and they all have their place; but they don’t speak to me much. I’m just trying to remember that no matter how dark it is outside, how dense the forest, how strong the vortex; maybe not tomorrow, or next week – the sky will be Oscar blue again, and we will tell this new child tales of their wild brother.